Older people should keep their hearts pumping with physical activity in order to protect — and even reverse — memory problems, according to two recent studies.
One study, done by the Mayo Clinic with 1,324 people between 50 and 65, showed that those who reported engaging in moderate physical activity, such as playing golf, swimming, or walking, showed a 39 percent reduction in the odds of developing mild cognitive impairment, and that similar exercise in later life showed a 32 percent reduction in risk.
A second study found that moderate physical activity can treat mild cognitive impairment.
Researchers at the University of Washington looked at patients with an average age of 70 who were already experiencing cognitive decline. A group of 23 patients was randomly assigned to an aggressive aerobic exercise program, while another 10 did stretching exercises, keeping their heart rates low.
A series of tests performed on each group showed improved cognitive function in the high-intensity group compared with the stretching group.
The tests showed that six months of behavioral intervention involving regular increased heart rate was enough to improve cognitive performance without the risks that come with drug therapies. Keep moving for life!